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The Nintendo Switch Hands-On Review

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend an invitation only Nintendo Switch hands-on event where I had the opportunity to play a number of different demo titles on Nintendo’s newest console, the highly anticipated Nintendo Switch.

Like many others, I was unsure about the Switch and was hesitant to purchase it on launch day as I wasn’t confident that the Switch was for me. However, after a solid two hours of testing out the demo versions of the hybrid console, I was sold. The number one reason being: convenience and portability.

I haven’t owned a handheld gaming console since the Nintendo Gameboy Colour, which was always my companion on all travel trips, be it a long journey overseas or a short one hour drive to visit my grandparents. I loved that console to bits, however, as I grew up, the more taken I was with the PlayStation and Xbox ‘stay-indoors-and-play’ consoles. That is unlikely to change anytime soon, but after my hands-on with the Switch, I certainly will be picking it up to use predominantly as a handheld console and travel companion.

The Switch is a solid piece of tech, with the entire console looking absolutely sleek both in and out of the docking station. The docking mechanisms were fluid and was easy to simply plug in and pick up. Out of the dock, the console felt great to hold and didn’t feel unusual at all, which is perfect as I wouldn’t want to standout and look awkward playing with it on public transport or on a plane.

The Switch comes with two joy-con controllers in grey or neon (red and blue) variations. I was completely enamored with the neon version as they looked simply amazing, with colour that just popped! The grey was great too and I predict it will go down well with adults who prefer a more polished and sleeker look. I for one will be picking up the neon controllers because it just looks so darned good!

I’m sure many are concerned that the joy-con controllers are too small and that it won’t be comfortable to use. While it is indeed small, all it takes is a bit of getting used to. The joy-con controllers are very much needed if you’re looking to play games like 1,2, Switch or Arms and the charging grip works great as a bigger controller for those who are concerned about the controller’s size. Not only that, but Nintendo has also made a pro controller available for all those who prefer gaming with a regular sized controller.

Another concern that I’ve heard and read about is the Switch’s performance when removed from the dock. Let me tell you, performance is just as good undocked as it is docked. Playing through the first few minutes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I was able to witness first-hand just how beautiful and crisp the game looked on the Switch. When undocked there didn’t appear to be any drop in frame rate. The level of detail that I could see on the console’s touchscreen display was sufficient enough and together with the comfort of holding the console, I felt that I could play the game for hours. The only issue is familiarising yourself with all the buttons and knowing exactly which does what, which I foresee will improve with time. As for battery life, the console is said to last approximately 2-5 hours depending on the intensity of game. As with any other handheld device, battery life varies with use. 

Of the whole lot of demo games on offer, my favourite would have to be Mario Kart. It was so much fun to play, even while holding the little joy-con controller in my hands. The game felt extremely smooth and engaging on the Switch and I can foresee a lot of co-op games being had at home.

One of the cool things that Nintendo has also come up with alongside the Switch is the parental controls app, which allows parents to control when, where and how long for children are playing games on the Switch. The app is rather cool, and, should it work exactly as advertised, parents will no longer have to worry about their children wasting their days away indoors playing on consoles.

Two versions of the Nintendo Switch's Joy Con controllers

All in all, the Switch is a unique piece of tech, which signals to the world that Nintendo is heading in the right direction. With its reveal of a paid online service to allow for multiplayer gaming, Nintendo expects to show their commitment to gamers and their willingness to be challenged.

For the current retail price here in New Zealand, the Switch may be a bit too overpriced for many, and the novelty could potentially wear off fairly quickly. However, as a gaming enthusiast, someone who works in the industry and who spends a lot of time with one of the biggest Nintendo fan-boys, the Nintendo Switch will definitely be finding its way into my home.

 

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